29 January 2010

Date set for Cuba – America immigration talks

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Cuba hopes to approach a number of issues during American immigration talks rescheduled for February.

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Cuba and America will discuss immigration issues at an upcoming meeting.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, said the 19 February meeting will tackle the issue of combating people smuggling, which is often carried out by gangs ferrying Cubans out of the country via speed boats.

While some Cubans head directly for Florida, most arrive on the coast of Mexico or Central America and make their way north to America via land, where they usually are allowed to stay due to American immigration rules.

Under American law, Cubans captured at sea are usually deported back to Cuba but those who reach American soil can apply for residency.

"Part of the Cuban agenda presented to the government of the United States is a proposal for a new immigration agreement and solidifying cooperation in the fight against people trafficking," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said America has not yet responded to Cuba's proposals, but a spokeswoman at the US Interests Section in Havana — which Washington maintains instead of an American embassy as the two countries do not have diplomatic relations — told Associated Press that Washington has not yet finalised an exact date for the talks.

Biannual discussion between Cuba and America were limited to only immigration discussions from 1994, but then cancelled under President George W. Bush in 2003.

The discussions were renewed in New York in July last year, with both sides declaring the meeting positive.

The second round of discussions were planned for December, but later pushed back to February.

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